McCALMANS – The Greentrax Years (Greentrax Recordings CDTRAX350)

My first encounter with The Macs was around thirty years ago at the Cambridge Folk Festival. I remember being mightily impressed by their vocal wall of sound and still am to this day. These were strident vocals employing a passion overlooked by so many artists these days (even though I still have a bit of difficulty understanding some of the more heavy Scottish dialect) and were/are the band’s trademark to this day. Never sounding happier than when it came to presenting bawdy drinking songs such as Andy M Stewart’s wonderful “Ramblin’ Rover” they certainly know how to engage and most importantly entertain their audience. Whether it be roaring out shanties (”Highland Laddie/Roll The Woodpile Down/A hundred Years Ago”), dipping into established favourites including “Both Sides The Tweed” and “Yankee Boots” or on a more reflective note utilising the band’s own finely crafted songs such as Ian McCalman’s “From Greenland” and you have a well rounded package. As a snapshot (46 songs on a double disk) this is a veritable smorgasbord of the band’s involvement with Greentrax Recordings and I hope will be a collaboration that continues for while longer. Stop Press: I’ve just discovered that the band will finally retire at the end of 2010 so, all the more reason for purchasing a real slice of ‘folk’ history!


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